Saturday 10 December 2011

Stuck-in-a-Book's Weekend Miscellany

First things first - happy birthday to Our Vicar!

It's definitely getting Christmassy at our house, since the Christmas tree has gone up (sans tinsel) and presents have been wrapped.  I'm heading down to Somerset at the end of next week, where Sherpa will inevitably destroy any decorations which go up - but I could forgive that little sweetheart absolutely anything, of course.

I'm not going to be particularly festive right now, though, as the weekend miscellany is dashing everywhere from the derivation of a popular phrase to the Twilight Zone.  It's an odd one this week... enjoy!

1.)  You know when you start with an honest, sensible Wikipedia search... and then quarter of an hour later you're reading about the chart hits of Destiny's Child or an unsolved murder case from the 1840s?  Yes?  Perhaps you'll sympathise with me: my initial search started with something for my DPhil on fantastic novels where rooms shift shape.  It ended with... an episode of the Twilight Zone called 'Five Characters in Search of an Exit.'  I thought I'd post it here, because (a) it makes for good watching, and (b) since it plays on the title of the Pirandello play Six Characters in Search of an Author, it's literary-by-proxy.  I do enjoy The Twilight Zone because it's surreal and mysterious without being terrifying or gory.  You can read the Wikipedia article here, and watch below (hopefully).

2.)  I spotted this via Kirsty, I think (whose blog Other Stories seems to have disapparated?)  Ever wanted to know where the odd expression 'stealing someone's thunder' comes from?  The Oxford Words blog obliges here.  I absolutely love these quirky little idioms and their history.  Any others to share?

3.) I haven't read nearly enough books published in 2011 to submit my own results, but if you have, pop over to The International Readers Book Awards on the website for my new favourite podcast, The Readers, run by Simon of Savidge Reads and Gav of Gav Reads.

4.)  This weekend's book (I have taken liberties with my normal Weekend Miscellany, but there has to be a book, doesn't there?) came through my letterbox from Vintage Books.  It's called Stop What You're Doing And Read This - what else could I do but obey?  I'm afraid it's not out until 5th January, but I couldn't resist telling you about it in advance - because it's just the sort of book-about-books that I adore.  To quote them, 'this book is a mission statement about the transformative power of reading.'  Well-known authors, publishers and sundry others have written essays about reading and the importance of books - preaching to the converted here, of course, but a topic which always captivates me.  So far I've read Zadie Smith on libraries (wonderfully impassioned), Blake Morrison  (mainly about biographies, and very interesting), Carmen Callil (most fascinatingly for me, the origins of Virago), Tim Parks (the one dud essay so far; trying far too hard), and Mark Haddon (unexpectedly brilliant, actually.)  Other essayists are Jeanette Winterson, Michael Rosen, Dr. Maryanne Wolf, Jane David, and Nicholas Carr.

Of course I'll write more in depth about this later, but I wanted to sound the alarm early.  It'll only be £4.99 when it's published, which I thought pretty reasonable, and it might just join Anne Fadiman, Susan Hill, and Alberto Manguel on my beloved books-about-books shelf.


  1. Re. "Stop What You're Doing" book - why on earth not publish in time for Christmas - sounds like a perfect Christmas gift/stocking filler. An opportunity missed!

  2. Thanks for the birthday greeting. OVW and I are still languishing in the world of colds (but the spirit of the Windmill continues and Honeypot is open this morning). Hope you're feeling better. Had a call from Col who is en route to London Town.

  3. Pat - I know, such a pity! Perhaps it's timed for everyone's new year resolutions?!

    Dad - that would explain why you didn't answer the phone just now!

  4. Love the Twilight Zone link - and I know exactly what you mean about the time-eating qualities of Wikipedia. I humbly genuflect to the great Wiki.

  5. Happy Birthday to OV! I must agree with Pat - that books sounds like the perfect holiday read. Of course, it can also be a good gift card purchase post-Christmas. ;) I haven't thought about the Twilight Zone in years - we get a little bit of everything here at SIAB - that's what keeps us coming back! :)
    Happy weekend to you.

  6. I will stop what I'm doing and add that book to my wishlist. Sounds great, I too can't understand why the publishers didn't time it for before Christmas.

  7. Dan - everyone seems to be afflicted/support by wikipedia in the same way... they have power over us all.

    Susan - haha, when I say miscellany, I mean miscellany!! And thank you so much for my lovely Christmas card - it's now hanging in the kitchen.

    Annabel - it is a little bemusing - perhaps they thought it would get lost in the Christmas rush? I was going to recommend it as an ideal Christmas gift until I spotted the publication date.

  8. Twilight Zone. I'm just old enough to remember having watched all episodes the first time round, and this is one that sticks in my memory (in fact, many of them do, because they were indeed very memorable.)

  9. I love the sound of Stop What You're Doing And Read This - especially the cahpter about the origins of Virago!


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